Can Crandell do it?

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:26 AM ET

REGINA -- Random thoughts and observations on the eve of the Edmonton Eskimos opening their CFL regular-season against the Saskatchewan Roughriders ...

- In his 10th CFL season, Marcus Crandell is trying to prove his critics wrong.

Crandell is the undisputed starting quarterback in Saskatchewan - a rarity for him in his fourth year in Regina.

In his three previous seasons in this city, he has started just 11 games.

Critics are concerned -already - if Crandell can lead this team to a Grey Cup title, just like Kerry Joseph did last year.

The career passing statistics aren't great: 55.6 career completion percentage and 85 interceptions compared to 79 touchdowns.

The benefit for the 34-year-old is that he's very familiar with this offence after learning it last year as Joseph's understudy.

"We have surrounded ourselves with talent and so, I think I am in a situation (where) I don't have to make every throw perfect. I have learned throughout my career - don't make a bad play worse," said Crandell after practice yesterday.

That is his reasoning for why he believes this year will be different and he will be the Roughrider starter the entire year.

But when he plays the Eskimos tomorrow in Regina to start the regular season (5:30 p.m., TSN, CHED) there is bound to be some rust.

Crandell only played one quarter in the pre-season. That is it.

There is a rumour going around suggesting the Riders held him out of playing in Edmonton last week - when the Esks hammered Saskatchewan 37-7 - because they didn't want to risk Fred Perry running him over.

- Remember the name Weston Dressler.

That is Saskatchewan's rookie returner and fifth wide receiver.

He's one of the smallest but fastest players in the entire league.

He once ran a 100 metres in 10.44 seconds.

"I was at the (high school) state track meet in North Dakota," said Dressler, recalling the impressive clocking.

A University of North Dakota product, Dressler is allegedly five-foot-seven and 179 pounds.

That is likely a tad too optimistic in the height department.

Of interest, he graduated with 19 UND records.

- While the Riders have already sold out their Labour Day game and have something like 30,000 tickets left for all the remaining home games combined, the regular-season home opener isn't apparently sold out - yet.

As of yesterday afternoon, club officials believed there were under 1,000 seats still available.

A sell-out is 28,800 at Mosaic Stadium. More importantly, a sell-out means the blackout is lifted across the entire province.

On a holiday-long weekend, thousands of people will flock to cottages in southern Saskatchewan with hopes the game will be on the tube.

- The Riders definitely have the thinnest depth at quarterback in the West Division.

In fact, Saskatchewan fans should be very worried about their depth at the key position.

The point was hammered home yesterday when it became apparent that Steven Jyles is the Riders No. 2 pivot, fresh from throwing four interceptions in two pre-season games.


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